Is there a way to recover texts from an LG G4 that won't turn on?
December 7, 2016 8:27 AM   Subscribe

It turns on briefly and shuts right back off, gets stuck in a bootloop, or won't turn on at all. I tried changing the battery and nothing. I was able to get it to turn on long enough to transfer over my pictures back in October, but nothing since then. It will sometimes turn on enough to tell me the battery percentage, and the battery still charges.

Right now it's showing nothing; no battery percentage or anything. I've been putting the battery in and taking it back out, but still nothing. The Sprint store already looked at it and is going to replace it for me, but I really need these texts so I'm trying to get them off before I have to turn the phone in. Is there anything I can do to recover the texts while the phone is off? They were not saved to the SD Card or backed up anywhere. I did a google search but it's hard to tell which programs are legitimate.
posted by Autumn to Technology (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is a Thing That Happens to G4s: there's a bad bit of something (solder?) in the phone's internals, and it eventually gives way, breaks a vital circuity thing, and puts the phone into an unrecoverable bootloop. Your phone, as you obviously know already, is hosed. There's a piece in there that needs to touch another piece in order to get the phone past the booting-up phase, and they're not on speaking terms.

I've had two G4s go bad on me in exactly this way (believe me, I won't be going for an LG phone next time...on the other hand, at least the G4 doesn't explode!), and the only thing that got me anywhere as far as getting it to boot long enough to grab vital information was freezing the phone: charge the phone/battery, then pull the battery and pop the phone, sans battery, in the freezer for as long as you can stand (I'd recommend at least an hour, the everyone gives a different time estimate). The goal is to leave it long enough that the internals get to freezer temp. The theory is that temperature change expands the edges of the broken circuit to expand just enough so that they contact each other again. Or something handewavey like that, I'm no engineer so don't quote my logic.

Once the phone is cold all the way through, take it out of the freezer, put the battery back in, and turn the phone on. Doing this will usually get the phone to boot and may buy you enough time to recover your texts . However! Your phone will return to its bootloop as soon as it becomes warm enough that the loose connection becomes loose again. My experience was that freezing the phone bought me 3-5 minutes of working phone time. Don't get complacent when it starts back up post-freezing. Work fast. You may be able to repeat the freezing + short working time after it returns to the bootloop, but I wouldn't guarantee that, so before you turn the phone on, make a plan for how you're going to retrieve and save those texts in the shortest time possible: Hand-copying their content down on paper? Photographing the text screen with another device? Copying and pasting their text into an email to yourself? Installing and using a text-backing-up app? (I wouldn't go for the latter. I'd be very surprised if your phone stayed up long enough for that)

I've also come across a more complex solution (initial explanation, another person explaining the steps), but haven't tried it myself so can't vouch for it.
posted by Hold your seahorses at 10:27 AM on December 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You can’t flash a custom recovery without unlocking the phone at the bootloader, which unless the G4 is completely unlike any other Android device, will wipe the phone in the process. Plus, you can’t get to the bootloader anyway.

If the phone storage is not encrypted, then a very expensive data recovery company might be able to pull the data you want off the flash chip. How valuable are these texts? :)
posted by pharm at 12:31 PM on December 7, 2016

Response by poster: Hmm, I guess I am stuck trying the freezer method! The texts are very valuable, I would be willing to pay $$$ to retrieve them. I don't know if I'm going to be able to retrieve everything in 3-5mins, unfortunately.
posted by Autumn at 1:59 PM on December 7, 2016

Oh god I'm so trying this on the G4 brick in my drawer. I might even leave it sitting in a bucket of ice in a ziplock bag while I work.

Get an Android, they said. It's so much better than Crapple, they said.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:33 PM on December 7, 2016

Best answer: I heated mine up--supposedly it makes the broken motherboard or whatever fuse again. I set it on my laptop charger (which gets hot) for 3 minutes, then booted normally. You can also use a blow dryer. Keep it hot/warm but not too hot. I found this info on Reddit; let me know if you'd like links.

To take the texts off I used a program that puts them in a text document that you then email to yourself. I think I used Carbonite. Not pretty but at least you have them. I also plugged the phone into my laptop with the charge cord and grabbed photos that way. There are other programs to save texts, but make sure you completely understand them before starting, and make sure you can get it done in a few minutes. I'm not sure how good it is to heat the phone and it may not work repeatedly.

My provider gave me a different model of phone as the replacement. I recommend not accepting an LG4 from them if you can avoid it (or get the specific version without this problem) since it's a known issue.
posted by ramenopres at 7:03 AM on December 8, 2016

Mod note: Couple comments removed at commenter request for misleading info.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:26 AM on December 16, 2016

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